Elizabeth visited with me for the first time in awhile a few days ago. Hill had woken me at 5:30, and I had trudged into his nursery to change his diaper, give him his morning bottle, and litter his crib with toys, hopeful that the distractions might afford me a slender pocket of sleep before mini’s inevitable six a.m. wakeup. I slid back into the cool of my sheets and, half straining for Hill’s cries and half slipping into sleep, felt her energy right next to me, a warm and golden kind of glow.
I fumbled for her. I found myself clawing at memories, desperate for something more shaped than the incorporeal aura sitting at my bedside. Nothing materialized.
It has been almost ten years since she passed away, and I find details of her hard to remember these days. I will never forget her smile, her knowing and slightly arch look on the heels of a naughty aside. I recall clearly the way she flicked her keys around her lanyard. The urgent gesture of her hands when engaged in the passionate retelling of a story. The specific sound the turn signal of her Volvo made — so different from any other car I’d ever been in — and the way she’d lean her pretty face toward her wheel to ease out onto Beulah Road in Vienna, VA. I can still remember her easy laugh. Her bright eyes. The way she smiled through her tears.
But I am haunted by the omissions. And angry at the sparse handful of wisp-thin details I still have. It’s a disgraceful posy. Her spirit was an outsized, meadow-wide, shout-it-from-the-mountaintops-and-ring-it-from-the-belfry kind. This crumbling circlet of memories to which I cling does not do her justice.
But what to do? Remember her to myself. Write against the erasure. Strain for that thing she said to me at 11:05 p.m. standing in the dim backyard of that row house in Georgetown with those handsome Hoyas playing beer pong next to us — oh, what was it?! We had laughed, and hugged our arms to our chests, delirious with the intimacy of our inside joke, performing ourselves in front of those boys in the evening heat of a July summer.
And yet I find myself borne into the different heat of a different July summer. By the time I had wiped away my tears the other morning, mini was at my bedside, breathing into my face: “Mama, why are those gummies on your desk? Mama, why are those gummies there?”
I had a split-second to re-center myself — to clutch Elizabeth’s brief dawn visit close — before launching into the day, carrying what remains of her with me right into the daybreak.
P.P.P.S. Life is short. Tell her you love her.
+My current favorite gifts for girlfriends: this face mask, this Artis brush (cannot wait to write a full review but am ecstatic about this product), Lake Pajamas, Billie wipes, and Audible subscriptions. I love giving people things I’m evangelical about, and I love surprising them out of the blue with them. (More gift ideas here.)
+This incredible liquid eyeliner is only $9 and is currently on a buy one, get one 50% off promotion. Just stocked up! I think this is just as good as Stila’s, which is saying a lot because I love Stila’s.
+Are you a Lilly Pulitzer kind of gal? I have a couple of Lilly dresses I still pull out every single summer — one of which I’ve had since my second year of college! — and two of them are in this exact shape (somehow this dress is marked down to $67?!)
+Two super cute floral dresses marked down to around $100: this blue and this bold rose print. I honestly think the latter must be a discount mistake — it’s considerably more expensive (or sold out) everywhere else on the internet.
+Mini loves her Petit Collage magnetic set.
+These low-profile glass vases are absolutely stunning (and well-priced) for large bouquets of hydrangea, lilac, etc.
+These bee cuff-links would make such an incredible keepsake gift for a wedding anniversary. (30% off with code HBDWOM.)
+Um, I think a lot of us could use this without regular salon treatments.
+Obsessed with this skirt.
+These handmade linen dresses are absolutely precious.
+This bubble in the red gingham is too sweet!
+There are still a couple of sizes left in this personalizable cashmere sweater — one of my favorite pieces I bought Hill last winter!
+I think Hill needs this airplane-print backpack. Too cute!
+Had to have this. That grosgrain bow in the back!!!
+This dress was just restocked — very popular the last time I posted it and then sold out!
+Welcome to my new readers. So happy you’re here.